Laura Sweeney


(listen to the poem, read by Diane R. Wiener)

where yesterday we watched three neighbor kids
collect squash in a grocery cart
and smash pumpkins in the street. Now the cart

sits empty in front of a sign nailed on a tree
Lost & Found
and thrice as many pumpkins.

You are golden as the maple leaves
strewn across the ground.

I lounge on a log bench
watch you flit in and out of the patch
fetch a foam fragment
of a ball you find and mutilate
and when you play too close
to the street across from Oakland Cemetery
I holler like anything.

pumpkn w a sunflower
pumpkn w a spider
pumpkn w an owl
glittered pumpkn

Tomorrow, you return for another tumor surgery.

pumpkn w an eye patch
pumpkn w a stitched mouth
pumpkn w a missing tooth
ghoul pumpkn

But today, the three kids from yesterday are back
with walking sticks. They squat down
by the opossum apartments, a brush mound
critter complex.
“We’re not gonna die in these woods, are we?”
one asks as I glance at you then
the three stumps
to my right situated by height like gravestones
amongst the green spruce and red bush
surrounded by flecks of orange.

pumpkn w a peace sign
pumpkn inscribed be my boo

winking pumpkn

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About the Author

Laura Sweeney facilitates Writers for Life in Iowa and Illinois. She represented the Iowa Arts Council at the First International Teaching Artist’s Conference in Oslo, Norway. Her poems and prose appear in sixty plus journals and ten anthologies in the States, Canada, Britain, and China. Her recent awards include a scholarship to the Sewanee Writer’s Conference. In 2021, she received an Editor’s Prize in Flash Discourse from Open: Journal of Arts & Letters; Poetry Society of Michigan’s Barbara Sykes Memorial Humor Award; and two of her poems appear in the anthology Impact: Personal Portraits of Activism, an Indie Book Awards finalist. She is a PhD candidate, English/Creative Writing, at Illinois State University.